Canadian Kimbal Mackenzie ’19 has made himself at home on the American basketball courts
Photo: Marc Hagemeier
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Canadian Kimbal Mackenzie ’19 has made himself at home on the American basketball courts.
Leading Loudly
by Kathryn Nicolai ’20

Helping to guide the men’s basketball team to two Patriot league championships was no easy feat for Kimbal Mackenzie ’19, especially when it meant often leading from the sidelines. The Ontario, Canada, native underwent surgery midseason last winter for a sports-related hernia, missing 12 games.

Leadership, a role teammates and coaches call Mackenzie’s most valuable asset to the Bison squad, comes easily to the guard. “I’m not afraid to voice my opinions,” he says. “I’m naturally a pretty loud person, so I let that carry over into the basketball realm.”

Leading the team through early-morning wakeups and an intense workout and practice schedule requires Mackenzie to always be on time and the hardest worker in the gym on top of his schoolwork as an economics major. To elicit the same work ethic from his teammates, Mackenzie says, “The work comes first and asking that of my teammates comes second.”

Last season, Mackenzie’s hernia became bothersome in the preseason, but he was determined to keep playing. He was on the court with his teammates for the first six games, but in November, as the pain escalated, surgery was recommended.

The six-week recovery process off the court challenged the vociferous, engaged leader. “I’m not good at not being involved in the games and the practices,” says Mackenzie. “When you’re not playing, you have to voice things in a different manner. When you’re playing, you can be a bit louder, a little bit more aggressive, because you’re doing it with your teammates.”

During his recovery, Mackenzie was forced to focus on the mental aspect of his game. “Internally it was very challenging for me,” he says. Maintaining a positive attitude and self-compassion when he wasn’t playing well was imperative to moving forward and regaining his ability to perform.

Now, Mackenzie says, if he wakes up sore after a two-hour practice he’s happy about it, knowing his body is getting stronger. “I’m just so thankful to be playing and to be healthy.”

Mackenzie is focused on his senior season with the hopes of continuing to play basketball postgraduation either in the NBA or overseas. “I’ve been putting a lot of work into it,” he says.

And the hard work has paid off. As the magazine went to press, Mackenzie was ranked fourth in the Patriot League in scoring at 16.1 points per game, bolstered by a career- high 28-point performance in an opening-night win at St. Bonaventure.

Instant Replay
Greatest career highlight
Winning two championships and his game-winning shot against Colgate during the 2017-18 season.
Balancing books and basketball
“You need to do work anytime you can, and there’s gonna be some late nights,” McKenzie says.
Off the court
McKenzie follows an extensive 20- to 25-minute stretching and rolling routine before bed.
Playing basketball has taught him “most of the things I know in terms of commitment, time management, being resilient, keeping my composure and staying level headed. If I’m not understanding a question, I know that getting upset isn’t going to help me.”